This paper provides a broad overview of the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry in Australia, including finance for the industry. The paper shows the following:
In calendar year 2017, the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry contributed around 2.7% to the economy, as measured by real industry gross value added at basic prices.
In 2016-17, the value of Australian rural product exports totalled $51.5 billion, making up around 17.7% of the value of Australia’s merchandise trade.
Agriculture makes up the majority of the industry’s total contribution to gross value added, contributing 2.6% to total industry gross value added.
In calendar year 2017, employment in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry made up 2.6% of total industry employment, of which around 82.9% was in the agricultural sector.
In 2016-17, the largest agricultural commodities produced in Australia were cattle and calves, wheat and milk.
In 2016-17, the three regions with the largest gross value of agriculture production in Australia were Western Australia’s wheat belt, Victoria’s north-west and Darling Downs-Maranoa in Queensland.
Key challenges facing the agricultural sector are climate variability, pests and diseases and market volatility.
As at 30 June 2017, total rural debt was $71.7 billion, of which around 96% was held by banks. Other types of rural financing include equity finance and government grants and subsidies.
Submissions to the 2014 Financial System Inquiry did not identify significant structural issues related to rural finance.
Farm debt mediation and financial counselling are available to the agricultural, forestry and fishing sector through either the Commonwealth or State governments (or both) and/or through voluntary schemes.